Whether you’re a drink aficionado or a full-blown foodie expert, we have found the perfect experience for you. As the culinary climate continues to develop in Argentina, the food and drinks market has been revolutionized. Consumers want better quality, fresher products, and they want it now.
We are becoming more aware that an excellent meal does not have to include grilled meat, and there are more options than ever to try fresh new products. It doesn’t just stop at food, of course. In fact, there has been a slight decrease in the consumption of alcohol in general, and instead, a more moderated consumption of better quality wine, beer, and cocktails. Craft beer was not even on our radar not too long ago, yet now it seems that there are at least four breweries on every block.
Equally, this has spurred on a whole other line of fare: events focused specifically on cocktails. Now more than ever, we’re eager to sip on well-crafted cocktails or aperitivos with a twist, shunning crappy no-name kiosko spirits in the process. Sure, everyone knows Argentina for its Malbec, but why stop there?
Luckily, BAC – Buenos Aires Cóctel – is an organization dedicated to “promoting Argentine and Latin American gastronomy and cocktails through the coordination of bars, restaurants, gastronomic professionals, companies and the public sector.” The organization has put together Argentina’s only professional drinks gathering BAC Inspira on September 10th and 11th held at the beautiful Palacio Piccaluga.
Co-founders Rodolfo Reich, Martín Auzmendi, and Agustín Camps hold a joint 45 years of experience working in and writing about the very depths of the culinary industry. This certainly seems to qualify to organize a drinks fair and competition showcasing the best delights of Argentine beverages, wouldn’t you say?
The aim of the fair is to bring together professional sommeliers, restaurant and bar owners, culinary students, and anyone involved in the industry to learn new skills and be inspired by the speakers and guest brands. The charlas and workshops are opportunities for professionals to learn from the very best in the industry so that they can be as knowledgeable as possible and meet the demands of the average consumer.
Rodolfo Reich believes that there has never been so much of a demand for professionals in the industry to up their game. According to him: “Nowadays the average consumer is far more knowledgeable and makes more intelligent choices when it comes to buying drinks.”
The consumer doesn’t just want to learn the difference between a scotch and a malt whiskey: they want to understand the extensive list of everything in between. Be it the difference between a Copita nosing glass and a more standard tulip-shaped Glencairn whiskey glass or how to create the perfect gin and tonic, they’re eager to acquire new skills and show them off.
The event has some of the top dogs in the industry so that professionals can be two steps ahead of any consumer. Some of the most exciting guest speakers include Robert Simonson, who could easily be crowned as the man who knows the most about cocktails on this side of the Atlantic (and possibly the world). He has written various guides to bars and has written for The New York Times and other international publications.
Inés De Los Santos, badass boss lady and BA’s cocktail pioneer, will also be inspiring professionals in her charla. She developed her skills by running Gran Bar Danzón and has since written two recipe books. She is also co-founder of Julep, one of the coolest cocktail catering companies in the country and just recently launched her own prepared cocktail brand, Isla.
She plays with new and innovative tastes: “Making cocktails is like an orchestra: different elements fuse together in harmony, making a work of art.” Anyone with eyes can definitely say that her cocktails certainly do look like a work of art, whereas my homemade mojito looks more like a slush puppy gone wrong.
Tato Giovannoni and Julián Diaz, co-founders of the famous speakeasy Floreria Atlántico are also guest speakers. Florería is clearly one of the coolest bars around, as I think most dream first dates would start here. Giovannoni is also some of the brains behind fast-casual Chori, Divisadero Parador, as well as the first Argentine gin brand Príncipe de los Apóstoles, which Giovannoni honors by infusing yerba mate into the mix. Diaz is the brainchild behind revived bar notable Los Galgos and 878 which carries the honor of being the city’s first speakeasy.
Narda Lepes barely needs an introduction, as this TV personality is Argentina’s answer for Jamie Oliver in regards to changing a nation’s eating habits. Her motto “eat plants, eat well, drink more water, try new things” has become legendary in challenging the country’s carnivorous tendencies and has played a significant role in making fresh, seasonal vegetables staples in the average Argentine’s diet.
Her restaurant Narda Comedor has continued to grow in popularity since its opening; her advice on how to approach the industry and revolutionize it with fresh, new ideas would be more than inspiring.
With this small army (among others) of food and drink industry insiders, there’s no way a budding bartender won’t come away with some valuable life skills. The list of all the guest speakers is available on the BAC Inspira website.
BAC have also teamed up with an entire (cocktail) bucket-load of experts from major national and international drinks companies, such as Phaedrus (the makers of Jäggermeister), Bacardi, Monkey 47 gin, Diageo (producers of Tanqueray, Ketel One, and Johnnie Walker) and many more.
If that wasn’t enough to make your mouth water (and also feel like you’re coming on with a metaphorical hangover) coffee will also play an important role in this event. Consumers are not only interested in getting clued up about alcoholic drinks but café is also on most people’s agenda – and palates – these days. Since everyone is keen to be seen as a coffee connoisseur these days, baristas and professionals need to be a few steps ahead of the game.
Experts need to know not just the different regions where the beans come from but also the individual processes that go into producing a top-notch cup of java. BAC welcomes guests from Nespresso, the global coffee experts, to help everyone be clued-up on the caffeinated beverage; this may also be of some use if you need a shot of caffeine to wake yourself up after try your hand at making one of the delicious libations on offer.
Like many of these food and drink fairs around Buenos Aires, what’s great about them is that they also give us access to the lesser-known, local producers. The current movement away from bigger corporates that puts smaller craftsmen on the map, allows these brands to grow and keeps the profit within the community.
BAC is an opportunity to meet and greet local brewers and distillers when you may not have heard of them before. Microbrewery Otro Mundo headed-up by Pablo Fazio, as well as other micro-businesses Destileria Moretti, Gin Sur, Vodka Noctúa and many others will be there. It’s an excellent opportunity to find your next equivalent to a Heineken while also helping out up-and-coming enterprises in Buenos Aires.
Microbusinesses are not the only new obsession with which industry insiders need to keep up to date. The role of social media (and especially Instagram) has become a huge part of the drinks market. Instagram influencers El Gordo Cocina and El Flaco Cocina will be running a workshop on how professionals should understand the power these platforms hold.
If you need to kill some time – but have already had something to eat – have a cheeky stalk on either of their accounts and find yourself three hours later drooling and ordering the closest you can find on Rappi.
However, as co-founder Rodolfo Reich states: “A lot of the time, the tastiest dish isn’t the prettiest dish.” In this technocratic world where social media can both boost and blunder a newly founded business with the click of a button, it is important that we don’t lose sight of what a good drink really is about. Yes, aesthetics are significant in branding, but the taste is really what puts it high-up on any consumer’s radar.
So, if you are a budding cocktail enthusiast trying to make a head-start in the industry, or even an experienced connoisseur who feels like you know everything and anything about drinks, get yourself to the BAC Inspira event to finely-hone those skills.